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User Journal

Journal: Thinking about college...

Journal by PFI_Optix

The comments in A recent article on Slashdot got me thinking about the perceived necessity of a college degree in America today. I was tempted to post, but didn't want to get on my soapbox and wander off-topic for however long it took me to get my rant on. This morning a comment I heard on NPR--something to the effect of "a college degree is necessary to succeed in today's economy"--brought me back to the same train of thought.

I'm a college opt-out. After a year of school and one changed major, I decided that college wasn't my thing and went into the workforce, finding IT work right away. I took two more shots at college after that, and both times decided it was a bad idea and quit before I wasted any more of my money. I'm probably technically a sophomore, having acquired credits from three different schools and across five different majors.

I have 15 years in IT and make significantly more money halfway through my career than the median family income for my state. I phrase it that way because my current level of income may not seem like much for east- and west-coast readers, but in rural Texas it is considerable. I'm roughly five years from having no debt, including owning my house outright. I am financially stable working a low-stress (for me) job I enjoy that doesn't take me away from my family for more than 40 hours a week. If that's not success, then I don't care to be successful.

I sometimes resent the notion that a person needs a degree to get by in today's world. 55% of this year's high school graduates in the U.S. will never go to college, and many of them will lead very successful lives. Some of them will be skilled blue collar workers whose hard work and talent puts them in demand. Some of them will be natural entrepreneurs, finding opportunities missed by those indoctrinated with collegiate groupthink. Some of them, like me, will be self-educated and competitive with college graduates in every way, lacking only that silly little piece of paper that says they endured a few years of telling professors what they wanted to hear.

Don't misunderstand me. I firmly believe that college is necessary for some people to realize their potential. Many students don't have the discipline or imagination to learn on their own, and need the structure of university. And some professions can't be learned without expert instruction, and that is best delivered at least partly in a classroom. I want my doctor to have a degree. I could care less if my network administrator has one.

User Journal

Journal: So I'm notebook shopping...

Journal by PFI_Optix

My wife has been wanting a notebook for a while. We've finally decided to drop the cash (not a lot, under $1,500) on one and I've been shopping for a couple of days. I was browsing Best Buy's listings (I know I know, Best Buy is evil...I'm just looking for price comparisons) and noticed they sold Macs.

I should take a moment to say that I've got no problem with Macs. I absolutely hated them prior to OSX, but since they finally got a decent OS I have no objection to owning one. Well, one objection: the obscene price one pays for the privilege of owning a computer with that great Apple logo on it. I've always known there was a difference in price between Macs and PCs in the desktop market, but it was never more than a few hundred dollars in the low end market and I could write that off considering the software package that you get with a Mac versus the utter lack of anything useful installed by a typical PC OEM.

So back to my laptop shopping: I decide to see what Mac has to offer, to see if it's worth getting my wife to an Apple store to try out the OS and see if she likes it. I search by brand, sort by price, and find that for $1,099 I can have a MacBook with a 13-inch screen, 80 GB HDD, 1 GB RAM, and a 2 Ghz Core 2 Duo. A little shopping has shown me several PCs with similar specs for $799 and up. $400 can buy a LOT of software and accessories, offsetting the "whole package" argument made by many Mac fans. The deal-killer for me is the 13" screen; that is absolutely abysmal, I can't even FIND a PC with that tiny screen size.

I'm far from being a PC zealot, but I've had enough Mac zealots here try to convince me that Mac is in fact a better deal, when clearly I can a lot more for my money with a PC. If any of you actually bother to read this, remember this: Mac isn't for the budget-conscious. It's a great platform with solid hardware and an excellent OS, but with a little effort a person can save hundreds of dollars (without sacrificing stability, don't try that tired argument with me) by buying a PC.

User Journal

Journal: This is required

Journal by PFI_Optix

I suppose I should write something here. I mean, a blank journal is like...a blank page in a book...that people write stuff in. So I'm going to write something deep and meaningful here so that when someone gets bored enough to actually click my journal link they'll read it and gain enlightenment.

But what should I write? I could write about technology, that's a popular subject here. I could measure the risks against the benefits of a highly technological society and discuss the merits of adopting such a lifestyle, if any exist. Or I could wax philosphical about the open-source movement and why the market needs it today. Or perhaps I could pander for karma and sing the praises of Apple.

No...lots of people do those things. I need something unique. Something that will speak to people. Something, new, refreshing, and not boring. Because boring people is bad.

One time I was at this lecture, and this guy kept rambling about all these disconnected topics. I couldn't really tell what his point was, he just kept going on about different things and going off on tangents and telling bad anecdotes. I hate it when people do that.

What to write, what to write...I hope I don't run out of roo

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.

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